Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh, The Loh Down on Science is a fun way to get your daily dose of science plus a dash of humor in less than two minutes.
Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh
Airs Weekdays 2:31, 3:31 and 5:49 a.m.

Lizard Push-Ups

Those lizard push-ups are real attention-grabbers.

Oh lizards, can I have your attention, please?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

You've contemplated a lizard, haven't you, on a lazy summer day?

Sometimes there are head movements - up down, up down. Then may come full-body, four-legged push-ups, which then go into head movements.

But why? Harvard biologists Terry Ord and Judy Stamps were so curious, they created Robo-Lizard.

It's a realistic-looking latex lizard model attached to programmable motors, which reproduce lizard push-ups and head bobs.

Ord and Stamps bolted the robots to trees in a Puerto Rican forest. As the robots performed, the scientists recorded the responses of real lizards nearby. They found that push-ups are meant to grab attention before head bobs. Like when people tap a fork against a glass, before making a toast.

The pre-announcement push-ups were particularly effective when it was dark or noisy - times when it's more difficult to get lizard attention.

Once lizard attention was secured, there were announcements, old business, and then a raffle. No. But maybe . . . their meetings are just as tedious as ours. Still reviewing the tapes.

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